The new Apple TV ships with the same remote everywhere but Siri on the set-top box is only supported in these eight languages and countries: English (Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, German (Germany), French (France), Spanish (Spain) and Japanese (Japan).
Why is that? After all, Siri on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad support the most basic features in a total of 29 countries, as per Apple’s iOS Feature Availability webpage.
Based on an interview that the German-language blog MacPrime conducted with several Apple TV project managers, it’s all about the differences in the pronunciation of actor names, films and directors in various countries. But rest assured, Apple is already hard at work on training the Apple TV’s Siri for additional countries.
It’s about phonetic speech
By putting a special emphasis on television shows and movies, Apple engineers simply wanted to avoid using American pronunciation of film titles, actor names and more in non-English speaking countries, thus limiting Siri on the Apple TV to a handful of countries.
Making things more complicated, Hollywood studios typically market their movies in various countries using locally-adapted movie titles, meaning their correct pronunciation differs wildly depending on the country or region.
These phonetic differences are the chief reason that Apple has made the decision to limit Siri on the Apple TV to a handful of launch countries. This isn’t a major issue on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad because movies and TV shows are not the central part of the experience on these devices.
Apple TV Remote: the naming hell
I’m not sure that an average Apple TV buyer is aware of Siri’s limitations on the device and Apple isn’t exactly helping much to avoid user confusion either.
For instance, in the eight countries where Siri is supported, the company is referring to the Apple TV’s bundled remote as the Siri Remote. Elsewhere, it’s called the Apple TV Remote. Confusingly enough, the white and aluminum remote that ships with prior Apple TV models is also officially called the Apple TV Remote.
Hey Siri, show me something new!
At any rate, Apple’s explanation for limited Siri support is plausible, if not totally logical. More importantly, it’s now fairly safe to assume that Apple will expanding Siri on the new Apple TV to more countries with future software updates.
In fact, the article states that Apple TV engineers are already collaborating with Siri’s speech specialists to learn movie and TV show pronunciations in other countries.